Radiator Fluid on 1996 Ford F-150

Replaced the radiator and reservoir after the hose blew off the radiator. The water consistency was a rusty orange mapley smell but it kept the engine cool, never overheat until the past week. If you run the engine and the air conditioning it would overheat. After putting the radiator and reservoir in, we put in the green coolant. The flow backed up into the reservoir and overflows out the top. The overflow is a foamy purplishly brown green. The a/c is blowing cool but the heater is not blowing. The gauge goes above the middle but not going to the HOT.

by in Yulee, FL on July 05, 2009
1 answer 7 comments
ANSWER by on July 05, 2009
It sounds like you have to really, really flush out your system, including your heater core. This may take multiple tries. It sounds like your heater core is plugged up with rusty coolant. Also, you should really replace the thermostat with the radiator work because if a hose blew off, I 'm sure the t-stat was over heated. and may be stuck which will cause the over flow problem. OK, if your trans fluid is mixing with your radiator fluid, it means that your trans cooler is leaking. There is a separate tank on your radiator to cool the trans fluid. I thought that you replaced radiator, didn't you? Does your trans have an additional cooler? If you trans fluid is mixing with your radiator fluid, then check your cooler lines into the trans and especially in the radiator. There has to be something that is allowing the trans fluid to mix with the the coolant, possibly the radiator is defective ( it can happen ) or the lines were did not match with the radiator and they poked a hole ( I have seen that too) Yes, I understand that the fluid is coming from the back, most likely from a on or near the trans. The key issue here is to stop the blending of the coolant and ATF which could only be happening in the radiator. Using a 'boneyard' radiator is very risky. Most likely the trans cooler tank is defective. First you need to confirm that the radiator is leaking internally. This can be done by pressure testing the radiator with the trans cooler lines off and everything else connected. It should not leak any coolant and hold at least 12 psi with out dropping for 15 minutes. If there is a leak, the coolant pressure will drop and even come out of the trans cooler line connection points on the radiator, especially the lower one. let me know how this test goes. So you tested the radiator as I suggested and it leaks? Ok, then I would definitely remove the trans pan and change the fluid and filter, but don't fill it all the way up, put in 4-5 quarts and then I would let the vehicle idle and then disconnect the return line to the radiator from the trans into a bucket (It will have the outflow) and let the fluid idle out until it is red and the water is out. It may take a few ( 6-8) quarts. This will get the coolant/fluid out of the torque converter etc. Then once that is done let the vehicle idle for a good while to let the rest of the water/coolant evaporate. Good Luck I am glad that the problem was discovered.
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COMMENT by on July 06, 2009
We flushed it several times, left engine running 15 - 20 minutes. The radiator fluid was clearing up, we put only the flush and water in it during this time. Third flush a bunch of hot water came gushing out of the back about where the transmission pan is, not sure where it is coming from. When checked the dip stick for the transmission it has the same foamy purple stuff that was in the radiator to start with. So the water is mixing with the transmission fluid??? What is causing this??? We are not driving the truck around it is sitting stationary so the transmission is not being used. ??????
COMMENT by on July 06, 2009
Yes we replaced the radiator and the overflow reservoir. I do not know if the trans has an additional cooler, where would I look for that? Would it be attached to the radiator or what?
COMMENT by on July 07, 2009
You understand the gush is coming out at the back of the engine by the cab, not at the radiator area. Could it be coming out of the rear seal? The lines fit right into the radiator and did not have to work to get them to fit, so think they matched. We did get the radiator from a junkyard, we have a warranty on it so we will check that.
COMMENT by on July 07, 2009
So we are needing to take the 'boneyard' radiator out and put a 'new' one in? If we do that how do we get the ATF and coolant separated? Do you think we will still need a rear seal or is that a problem?
COMMENT by on July 09, 2009
OK, we have a bad radiator. Son has gone to get a new radiator. Now, if you drop the pan from the transmission and put a new filter in it, can we just put in fresh fluid and get the water out or what do we have to do?
COMMENT by on July 20, 2009
Thanks a bunch for all the help, it is running great now! It did take my husband 2 cases (haha!) to get it like he wanted it!
COMMENT by on July 20, 2009
Thanks a bunch for your help, the truck is running great now! It did take my husband 2 cases to get it flushed like he wanted it! (hahaha!)
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